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My morning mail arrived with a packet sent by an anonymous contributor…copies of emails and correspondence concerning the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC). I must say it caused me to choke on my breakfast.

The CAMTC, according to their website, is currently conducting a search for a CEO. That’s not shocking news. What is shocking news is the insistence of former Board chair Ahmos Netanel, who is said to be gunning for the position, that the job is worth $348,000 a year, and that it should come with an executive assistant to the tune of another $144,000. Is there another Gold Rush in California that the rest of us haven’t heard about?

Let’s put that in perspective: The governor of California gets paid $206,500 a year. The President of the United States makes $400,000 a year. An e-mail from Netanel states “…for the kind of skill set and record we are looking for, anything less than $29,000 per month would represent a major cut in pay for the kind of CEO we need."

I personally think that’s over the top. I know hundreds of hard-working massage therapists who don’t make $29,000 a year. Can you say “non-profit?” It really looks like somebody is going to profit, and in a major way.

I believe there are former CEOs all over the country with great skill sets, knowledge, and expertise who are out of work, who’d take the job for half of that and be glad to have it. Is the head of a state massage association really worth more than the governor? I hope the Board members at the CAMTC will wake up and smell the coffee. It smells a little burnt from where I’m sitting.

Peace & Prosperity,

Laura Allen

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Comment by The Rev on February 18, 2010 at 8:28pm
I don't understand what you are saying, Lori. You wrote, "Our students were taking many more hours of class because many required 720 hours or more." Are you saying the students were not able to provide a salable massage even after 720 hours of training? That's not good.

I don't think I am an exception by any stretch of the imagination, but I was able to give a good massage after a 100 hour 11 day intensive, at the NHI (then in Oakland), when they had module trainings. I took almost 2 & 1/2 years to complete their 1000 program gaining me a Holistic Bodywork Therapist & Health Educator certificate. My understanding is the IPSB in San Diego is another school that advocated a 1000 hour requirement. What school are you with, Lori?

I feel the need to state my position, again. I am not against high standards. I am against imposing prohibitive requirements by law. For me, even a 250 program would have been prohibitive for me to enter this line of work, in 1986. I am a high standard kinda guy. Recently I have been receiving very good basic massage/Tui Na, as a mentor, from a woman finishing the 1st level of training at the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley. It is great because I am having my memory tweaked by some of her work, reminding me that too much info and learning can sometimes make one forget many of the basics which are just as good as some of the advanced materials.

Yes, Johnathan, you are right. An inordinate amount of time is being spent on the CA issues. The MTBOK project is something that is truly alarming. The BOK they come up with may run directly in line with the Onet job summary. Requirements to do massage based on what is determined to be the BOK required to learn to do massage may be comparable to those practicing medicine, PT's or Chiro's. How sad!
Comment by Laura Allen on February 18, 2010 at 8:21pm
Thank you, Keith. I wasn't clear that I did know that CA has had the hodge-podge of city approval in the past. I know a few therapists from CA, and they have all thought that is a big pain in the butt. One therapist who does house calls has in the past had to get licensed in a half-dozen towns. People who move 20 miles in another direction have had additional trouble and expenses. I think it will serve everyone for it to be state-wide instead of the old here-and-there municipality method.
Comment by Laura Allen on February 18, 2010 at 8:14pm
Thank you, Johnathon, for pointing that out. I know how many comments I personally made on the MTBOK, both drafts. Most people don't seem to care. Either they don't understand how it could potentially affect them, or they just don't give a rip if it does.

Lori, I'm sorry this has hurt your school. I am all for raising the standards of education. The 525 hours I initially got in school has been added to every year with continuing education. I know so many people who resent having to take continuing ed. I look forward to it, personally. Some years ago, Kentucky had an initial requirement of 100 hours. A young lady from there attended the massage school in NC where I was the administrator (the same 525-hour school I graduated from), got her 100 hours, and was never seen again. I think as long as there is a low minimum anywhere, that's what a lot of people will go for. Whether that's due to lack of money to do more, laziness, or just thinking they already know all they need to know, I couldn't say.
Comment by Lori Bradshaw on February 18, 2010 at 5:33pm
Re: the Rev saying he believes the biggest beneficiaries of are the schools. The CA cert program has hurt my school. We have over 1000 hours of classes. Our students were taking many more hours of class because many required 720 hours or more. Now with the 250 or 500 hour requirement, they tend to stop taking classes or slow way down. Don't get me wrong, I am all for the state certification, but it definitely hurts some of us. Won't even get into the responsibility of continuing ed argument.
Comment by The Rev on February 18, 2010 at 2:10pm
Angela Palmier writes, "I'm sure it's obvious that I'm a proponent for licensure, however, licensure that provides value for the professionals is what I am most interested in. I understand that Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband is putting his hat in the ring for Governor, making big promises such as legalizing marijuana and taxing it to pull the state out of it's economic woes.....maybe that will shake things up a bit??? :)"

I traveled a long road from being adamantly opposed to licensing to being in favor of inclusive licensing. is where you will find my position. Until the power of licensing is given back to the state, my position is moot in CA.

So far as the 250 hour vs 500. The 250 hour "practitioner" option comes to an end on Jan 1, 2012. is where to find the bill.

So far as Zsa Zsa's husband running for governor, why not? I sure hope the Dems come up with someone other than Jerry Brown. I am non-partisan that votes mostly Dem, but with Jerry vs Meg, I may just throw my vote away.

As noted by Laura, there is still much confusion about the meanings of being Nationally Certified. There is still lots of misinformation and misunderstandings about what SB731 means. In CA, one will not be a CMT because the state reserves the right to Certify. One will be a cmt. By default, I am a Berkeley LMT. I argued for my Rubber title at a Berkeley City Council meeting in July/2009 and lost.
Comment by Keith Eric Grant on February 18, 2010 at 12:23pm
A few clarifications and comments which, once again, are again my own observations. The current consideration of a CEO position is aimed at the next 12-18 months. Assuming CAMTC navigates the challenges of that period, and there are likely more shoals than open water, then skill requirements are expected to become more mundane subsequently. While, as noted in an ABMP post, an amendment to the budget simply reducing the budged salary did not pass, amendments did pass to stipulate a salary benefit/range, as mentioned by Beverly May, and to remove a stipulation that this leadership budgeting was limited to one person. This would allow a split leadership to address separate issues involving information technology and negotiations with cities and the legal and legislative challenges. There are multiple paths in which CAMTC could fail, including loss of support from the massage profession itself, on the one side, from expenditures not compatible with the profession's culture or from not meeting operational challenges. CAMTC could also be gutted by legal and/or legislative challenges from the cities or, as with AB 1822, the California Chiefs of Police Association (CCPA). In the interim period, applying sufficient "leverage" to recalcitrant cities to avoid law suits could balance salary and capabilities against potential legal costs. In general, most cities and even most police departments appear willing to work with CAMTC. Unfortunately, the power structure of the CCPA seems to be weighted toward those who are not so willing.

In reply to a comment made by Laura, California has had a law explicitly giving cities the rights to regulate massage since the 1970's. AB 1822 seeks to return to that status. An era of no regulation ended long ago, except where cities chose not to exercise there regulatory rights under statute law.

In reply to Angela, CAMTC is essentially forbidden by the legislature from lobbying. That's to say that the office of the Senate Business and Profession's Committee has said that they would consider lobbying activities as highly inappropriate. That is not to say that CAMTC can't work with such legislative offices, we can and do. Any actual lobbying, however, will have to reside with other organizations.

The CAMTC BOD is working with our management company to achieve better performance. Additional funds were approved at the last meeting to see if we can get processing up to 100 applications per day. At the same time, CAMTC needs and requirements have essentially swamped the management company, both in terms of personnel and skill availability and in terms of document management and information technology. The indications are that more steady and proactive leadership is needed than either the management company itself or an unpaid volunteer board can effectively provide.

I'll also note that the Bagley-Keene act does not stipulate that ALL communication between board members is public. It stipulates that anything that could be considered to be a board or committee meeting has to be announced by agenda and publicly conducted. Please note that the definition of a meeting, on page 2 of the document, stipulates participation of a majority of a body. The B-K stipulation includes a prohibition of effective meeting/discussion via serial email. The B-K act also allows for closed session meetings when legal counsel determines that such discussions could, if public, be detrimental potential legal challenges to legitimate CAMTC actions.

In addition to the organizational members directly stipulated by SB 731, the BOD has also added, by 2/3 vote in accord with SB 731 and CAMTC bylaws, two additional members representing large employers of massage therapists.

What CAMTC is legislated to provide is a uniform exemption to local licensing laws and targeted/punitive zoning and establishment requirements. The BOD is working, from everything I've seen, to implement this without exception. This includes a pending written opinion from legislative legal counsel (at the request of the Senate B&P office) on the applicability of SB 731 to charter cities and potential requests for legal opinion to other public bodies. It also has included numerous meetings and presentations to cities and police departments. Working toward this goal of total implementation is, as far as I can see, being pursued on multiple fronts as effectively as is practically possible. I'll also note that, at the state level, SB 731 is a voluntary certification law, not a practice act. It was not designed to nor could it practically be implemented to instantaneously replace all local licensing. Implementation has meant focusing on and development solutions, as near as possible, to a large number of details not stipulated in the enabling legislation. That has, without doubt, been a challenging learning process.
Comment by Angela Palmier on February 18, 2010 at 10:56am
Well, sort of (re: the 500 hour requirement). As I understand the way the bill is currently written, if a person has 250 hours and gets that certification now, so long as they do not let that lapse they will be able to continue that status forever, again, so long as they don't let it lapse. I'm wondering what the rationale was for not asking that by the time the required 500 hours came up, those with 250 hours or less would be required to show the increase in education? Someone must benefit from people continuing to have less education---since AMTA requires 500 hours, I'd hardly think they would be in favor of this???

On a good note, the more municipalities that adopt the CAMTC guidelines has the potential for making this legislation look more like a practice act than the title act that it currently is----while the opportunity for challenge would be present, it would be interesting to see what would happen with regard to licensure now as it seems that the therapists, municipalities and specifically CAMTC is becoming a temporary "victim" of their own success. Turning the victim status to an opportunity to fight your their professional rights in California would be a great boost for the professionals in California.

I'm sure it's obvious that I'm a proponent for licensure, however, licensure that provides value for the professionals is what I am most interested in. I understand that Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband is putting his hat in the ring for Governor, making big promises such as legalizing marijuana and taxing it to pull the state out of it's economic woes.....maybe that will shake things up a bit??? :)
Comment by The Rev on February 18, 2010 at 9:49am

Thanks for the heads up on AB1822. I had not been paying attention. I look forward to seeing who recruited the lobbyists to start pushing this through.

This bill would, until January 1, 2016, require any person who
administers massage for compensation to be certified by the nonprofit
Massage Therapy Organization or certified, registered, or licensed by
a city, county, or city and county. - AB1422

It won't fall back into the hands of the cities until 2016.

In Berkeley, we have the option... Have 500 hours and go through the fingerprinting and background check, OR have the CAMTC certificate.

Truly believing the biggest beneficiaries of the CA cert program are the schools and businessess with multiple locations such as Massage Envy, I can see a divided CAMTC when it comes to fighting off AB1822, if there is resistance at all. By 2016, the Amta banner of 500 hours will be the law of CA land.
Comment by Angela Palmier on February 18, 2010 at 7:40am
I'm wondering if in the heated discussion here if anyone picked up on Laura's post on Feb 14 at 6:58pm below????
Assembly Bill 1822-------
I have little doubt that the CAMTC Board has heard the concern regarding salary......I think they get it, and if they don't, well, we can pick it up again in a month. I'm less concerned about a CEO making 300,000/year and more concerned about the fact that a bill---gaining legs----would put the control back in the hands of municipalities. Which battle do you want to fight here? There are quite a few posts coming from people who don't live in California----the Board Member "He/She who shall not be named" (sorry, I channeled my inner Hermione Grainger) even sent the top secret envelope to a sweet little lady in North Carolina!!! Not suggesting for one second that we don't hold our leaders accountable, however all of us---in every state have the potential of having OUR professions legislative efforts affected if California's legislation falls----not to mention the potential affect it could have on future Federal Legislation. One of the requirements to serve on the CAMTC Board was that associations with "x" number of members were to have 2 board members appointed---there are school representatives on the board as well, representing big and small school associations. Since both associations and schools profit from massage therapists in California regardless of their regulatory status-----Who's REALLY making out here......CAMTC Board, are you prepared for the legislative fight of your life----just as your life is beginning? Who's working on our behalf to stop this bill?
Comment by Laura Allen on February 18, 2010 at 7:01am

I hope your business, and you, survive and thrive. We need passionate people like you to stay the course. And if ANY massage board is practicing racial/ethinic profiling and discrimination, shame on them.

There is a bigger issue in that regard. In NC where I am a Board member, we have had a lot of unlicensed Asians practicing massage. I actually feel sorry for most of them, because many have appeared before our Board and stated--through an interpreter--that they came to America because such and such school owner promised them they could get a job doing massage and making a lot of money. I am very certain that there are some diploma mills operating who are fooling these poor people and just taking their money. It really amounts to human trafficking. We had a spa owner here last year busted that was actually holding 12 Asian women hostage in his spa, forcing them to work for nothing, they were in captivity.

Back to the CAMTC issue, I feel very distressed about it and you are not the first person to say the things you have said--others have emailed me privately and said the same thing, Thank you so much for having the courage to speak it out in public.

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